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If you're embarking on your first trip to Vietnam, it's important to be well-prepared to ensure an unforgettable experience. To help you make the most of your journey, I've compiled a list of essential tips when planning a trip to Vietnam. By following these suggestions, you'll be well-equipped for a seamless and enjoyable trip to Vietnam.


1. VISA


One of the most important things to prepare, is your visa. There’s no point preparing for anything else if you can’t enter the country! If you hold a UK passport and intend to visit for a duration of 15 days or less, you are exempt from obtaining a visa. However, if your stay exceeds 15 days, it is necessary to apply for an eVisa, which can be done online through this link. It may take a few days to approve so make sure you do it with plenty of time before travelling. If you are travelling on another passport, check in advance to make sure you have enough time to organise a visa if you need one. Print out a couple of copies of the eVisa as they’ll keep a copy at passport control. You won’t necessarily need it elsewhere but it’s always handy just in case. If you are staying for longer than 30 days, you may need to consider a ‘visa run’. This involves exiting to a neighbouring country, and then re-entering Vietnamm. Although I don't have personal experience with this procedure, I suggest referring to other reliable blogs for detailed guidance on how to navigate it successfully.

2. Passport Validation



In addition to obtaining a visa, you need to make sure your passport is in good condition. Some visitors have been refused entry on the account that their passports had been damaged! Vietnamese authorities prefer documents to be presented in pristine condition, much like their foreign currency. This brings us to the next point of consideration.


3. Take Cash for VND



Another essential aspect to consider is ensuring you have enough cash. Vietnam primarily operates on a cash-based system, although card acceptance is increasing. However, locals still prefer cash transactions. To obtain the best exchange rate without relying on ATM withdrawals, here's a valuable local tip: Before your trip, visit your bank and withdraw or order cash in GBP, EUR, or USD (whichever is most convenient for you). Specifically request crisp, unfolded, and creaseless £50 (or €50 or $100) notes. This is really important. If you get smaller or creased notes, this will devalue your cash and your exchange rate will be worse. Upon arrival in Vietnam, you have two options: either visit a bank or head to a market with a goldsmith/jeweller. These places can offer you a very favourable exchange rate for your cash into Vietnamese Dong. By choosing this method, you can maximise your savings when exchanging currency.

4. Bring Your Drugs!


If you're not accustomed to regularly consuming Asian cuisine (and by this, I mean home cooked asian food, not your take aways!), your stomach may not be accustomed to the ingredients that you’ll get in Vietnam. Since the best culinary experiences can be found at street food stalls, even those with strong stomachs may encounter some digestive challenges. While we hope you won't experience any issues, it's better to be prepared. Pack essential items such as Imodium, paracetamol, and hand sanitiser. While these items are available for purchase in Vietnam, Western brands tend to be more expensive, and Vietnamese brands may have ingredient lists you can't read. Therefore, bringing these items with you will save both money and potential confusion. By having familiar Western brands that work effectively, you can maintain your well-being during your trip.

5. Bring a Credit/Debit Card that Works Internationally



When it comes to larger payments such as hotel stays and restaurant bills, using a credit or debit card is generally accepted. However, for most other transactions, cash remains the preferred method of payment in Vietnam. It’s useful to use an abroad-friendly bank like Wise, Revolut or Monzo. With platforms like Wise, you gain the advantage of monitoring exchange rates and transferring money to your desired currency at favourable rates. Additionally, Wise allows free cash withdrawals of up to £250 worth per month. By taking advantage of these features, you can effectively manage your finances and access cash as needed during your trip.

6. Get Vaccinated


Before you head off, make time to get any jabs you might need! The main vaccinations recommended for Vietnam include Typhoid, Diphtheria/Tetanus/Polio, and Hepatitis A. For the most current and comprehensive medical information, I recommend checking the Travel Health Pro website before your travel. While most parts of the country have a low to zero risk of malaria, it's important to note that mosquitoes can still be annoying. To protect yourself, particularly during jungle or rural treks, wearing long sleeves and applying insect repellent will prove helpful. These precautions will aid in preventing mosquito bites and potential discomfort during your time in Vietnam.

7. English is Key


I was once asked if French would be useful in Vietnam. Whilst it was occupied by the French and many of the French influences can be seen (like banh mi and the use of the Latin alphabet), French isn’t widely spoken. You’ll get by better with English and cảm ơn (thank you).



8. Travel Insurance

As mature travellers in our 30s, we’re more sensible (sometimes!) but that doesn’t always mean we are safe from possible mishaps. And it’s worse when abroad. Lost or stolen belongings, cancelled flights and medical cover are the main reasons why I will always purchase travel insurance. If anything does get stolen, head to the nearest police station with a tour guide/hotel receptionist to help you file a report so that you can claim once back home.



9. Book Accommodation for the First Night


Book, at least, the first few nights stay so that you’re not wondering around, lost in a big city. In Hanoi, we found that hostels were often much better quality than hotels. Staff at hostels were friendlier, and the rooms were more modern and cleaner. In addition, there is often free tea and coffee in the kitchen areas where you’re more likely to meet friendly travellers.


 


Remember to immerse yourself in the vibrant street food scene, explore the breathtaking landscapes, and embrace the warm hospitality of the Vietnamese people. Whether you're wandering through bustling city streets or venturing into serene rural landscapes, Vietnam promises an adventure filled with unforgettable experiences. So, go forth, embark on your Vietnamese odyssey, and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Safe travels and enjoy every moment of your remarkable journey through the captivating wonders of Vietnam.


 

Do you have any questions as you plan for your trip to Vietnam? Let me know!

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